Threesology Research Journal
Examples of "Threes"-oriented Web Pages
page 12

~ The Study of Threes ~

The following are references culled from other websites regarding patterns-of-three that may or may not explicitly nor specifically reference the number 3 as the primary objective with respect to the information presented. Please give all respective authors their due credits. Links to their websites are provided following each section.

"The Symbolism and Spiritual Significance of the Number Three"

Arms of Estonia Republic
An Example of the Triple Symbology

Grand and Small State Coat of Arms of the Republic of Estonia were confirmed by the Rigikogu by a Law adopted on June 19, 1925, which entered into force on the territory of the Republic of Estonia on July 21, 1925.

The large national coat of arms has three blue lions (or according to some interpretations, leopards) on a shield with a gold base.

One of the lions symbolizes the courage of the fight for freedom in ancient times. The second stands for the courage in the uprisings in Harjumaa in 1343. The third represents the courage of the Estonian fight for freedom between 1918-1920.

The wreath of oak leaves stands for the perseverance and strength of Estonia and the evergreen traditions of freedom.

triple figure

In the first three numbers, all of the others are synthesized. From the union of oneness and duality (which is its reflection), that is, from triad, proceed all of the other numbers, and from this primordial triangle all figures derive.

There is also, for traditional civilizations, a direct relationship between numbers and letters of the alphabet, to the point where, with many alphabets, numbers were represented by letters, and had no special signs of their own. This is not the case with the early American cultures, which knew no alphabet, but we wish to call attention to this correspondence because not only the alphabetical code, but the numerical one, as well, describe all reality: that is, everything that is numerable or namable–in the sense of "ciphers," harmonious measures, "proportions"–in sum, the totality of the cosmos, of the knowable.

This threeness or triad, has always been considered sacred–like oneness, duality, and all numbers–by virtue of its very properties and particular attributes. These properties and attributes are manifested in its threefold nature, which of itself is the inevitable expression of a principle, an archetypal fact, that solidifies in a series, as a representation of ideas and energies that materialize in magical, mysterious fashion while obeying precise, universal laws, which the numerical codes and their geometrical correspondences symbolize.

triple figure

triple symbol

This symbol is a triad or trinity. It is a symbol of the unity of body, mind and spirit. The symbol is of universal significance - it is found throughout history and all over the world. It was popularized early in this century by the Russian-born artist, philosopher and scientist Nicholas Roerich. (--- ---). It can be interpreted in many different senses: spirit/mind/body in a circle of synthesis; past/present/future enclosed in the ring of eternity; art/science/religion bound in a circle of culture.

The oldest of Indian symbols, Chintamani, the sign of happiness, is composed of this symbol and it can be found in the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. It appears in the Three Treasures of Tibet; on the breast of the Christ in Memling’s famous painting; on the Madonna of Strasbourg; on the shields of the Crusaders and coat of arms of the Templars. It can be seen on the blades of the famous Caucasian swords called "Gurda" and on the swords of Japanese nobility.

It appears as a symbol in several philosophical systems. It can be discovered on the images of Gessar Khan and Rigden Djapo; on the "Tamga" of Timurlane and on the coat of arms of the Popes. It can be seen in the works of ancient Spanish painters and of Titian, and on the ancient ikon of St. Nicholas in Bari and that of St. Sergius and the Holy Trinity. It appears on the coat of arms of the city of Samarkand, on Ethiopian and Coptic antiquities, on the rocks of Mongolia, on Tibetan rings, on Buddhist banners, on the breast ornaments of all the Himalayan countries, and on the pottery of the Neolithic age.

The symbol of the triad or trinity has existed over immeasurable time and throughout the world. It can be understood as a key to the integrity and interdependence of all existence.

triple figure

Mother Goddess

According to some authors, the triune mother-goddess in pre-Christian Celtic society, to was equal in stature to that of Mercury, which is what Caesar called Lugos or Lugh, the most important of all the continental Celtic deities. Often Continental representations in sculpture and bas-relief of goddesses are in triads, which were for a time considered to be representations of different figures than those that appeared individually. However, when one looks at the objects associated with them, it is clear that "the two groups express the same religious idea; only the representation of the idea varies." Some of the symbolic associations with the Celtic mother-goddess are the cornucopia, fruit, animals seated on her knee, and a child in her arms or next to her. Interestingly enough, in continental representations of Celtic deities, the goddess Julius Caesar called Minerva (who is now known to be Brighde) is often depicted in a triad with the male deities Mercury and Apollo, or Mercury and Vulcan. This is possibly a symbol of her immense importance in Celtic religious practices. In other representations, "Minerva" is depicted in the company of "Mars" which is what Caesar called Camulus, the same figure as Cumhail (father of Fionn Mac Cumhail, leader of the Fianna) a sky and war god of the Celts, both Insular and Continental.

The triad is a defining characteristic of Celtic religion and mythology, and not all female triads in the Irish tradition, at least, are as clear symbols of the Mother Goddess. These symbolic attributes include: cornucopia, fruit, animals on the figure’s knee, or a child in her arms or at her side.

Celtic art and literature has long been preoccupied with the number three. Looking at Celtic works or art one notices that often figures are grouped in clusters of three, creatures have three heads, objects repeat three times, or a single head might have three faces.

Oak, ash, and thorn were called the faery triad of trees. Where they grow together,it is still said that faeries live.

From the Druid or Celtic Shamanistic viewpoint the number three represents the different views one might develop following an initiation ceremony. Celtic Shamans believed that they could see the present, past and future - their vision of the world was complete and trustworthy. The Shaman often saw himself as a man standing in three different worlds at the same time. In this way, his judgments, decisions and advice became infallible and was closed to interpretation.

To the Celtic Shaman the worlds overlapped thus his consciousness is different from anyone else. His world view is full and complete. He has many ongoing relationships with otherworldly entities, such as fairies, the dead and the yet to be born. He gains his knowledge of this world from these entities and bestows it upon those who are not so blessed with such insight, such as King Arthur.

The Celtic preoccupation with the number three can be seen in the image of many of the Celtic Gods and Goddesses such as the three Brigids, and in the course of a story, often male heroes travel in groups of three in an attempt to complete a task, each of the three completing a different leg of the journey.

Just as night and day need twilight or dawn to go between it, the Celtic Shaman is the necessary third being between what is seen and unseen. He is neither this nor that. This widespread interest of the number three remains in our thinking today. Many modern concepts in philosophy, mathematics, physics, etc., are still very much based in the idea of "the three."

The Greeks used the number three a lot. There were the three Fates, three Graces, three Gorgons and the three Furies. Even Apollo's Pythia sat on a three legged chair (tripod) and Cerberus was a three headed dog. Multiples of three also seemed to be used such as the nine Muses and the twelve Olympian gods.

Add the Holy Trinity, the trimester and some others, and you have a world-wide phenomenon.

--- The Symbolism and Spiritual Significance of the Number Three ---

Triune Thought and The Three Realms
By Kenneth R. White ©2002

The ancient Celts and the Druids lived in a culture and with a view of the world very different from what we are accustomed. When we begin to study Druidry we have to come to some realizations that we will have to overcome many of the social and cultural habits which have been ingrained within us. This "indoctrination" begins at birth and continues until our deaths. This type of training isn’t on purpose, nor is it necessarily wrong. But if we are going to walk the path of the Druid we need to understand the way they thought, and we need to retrain ourselves to think as they did. We have no sure means to do this, we have so little reliable information concerning the Druids and their philosophies that it will be extremely difficult if not impossible to actually "think like a Druid."

Starting with the understanding that we need to change the way we view the world, the universe and the self is the first and most vital step. The Celts and the Druids saw everything in their world as existing in triune, or in threes. This is extremely different from our "dualistic" point of view. We have been taught from childhood to categorize the world into groups of opposites such as: good/evil, night/day, masculine/feminine and black/white. This type of thinking is dualism in its simplest form. Dualism, in its modern sense, is mostly based on Aristotelian thought as forwarded by Christianity and other cultural influences. Even many of the pioneers of the occult movement such as Crowley used this form of categorizing things as either good/evil or masculine/feminine. They even went so far (as some modern pagans have also done) to assign masculine and feminine the corresponding attributes of evil and good, respectively.

Because of the innate desire of all humans to try to explain our world and the universe around us we have developed theories and mindsets that help us to understand the world from a cultural or religious perspective. Our modern culture is so influenced by the basic beliefs of Christianity and the works of philosophers who liberally borrowed from Greek sources that our way of reckoning things is linear and dualistic. Dualism is so ingrained into our thought patterns that we may not even realize that there are other ways to view the world.

To the Celt everything in existence is connected to everything else, a concept that modern Druids call Manred. All these aspects are three separate things that are all linked together to make a whole. The existence of just one of these parts of a triad was considered impossible. All were necessary to existence. Everything in nature is connected to everything else and everything in nature depended on these triads of existence. Not only is everything interconnected, but the basic building blocks of reality and everything contained within that reality is composed of a triune. This triune concept takes the form of the belief that everything in nature is composed of soul, mind and body (or possesses a spiritual, mental and physical form respectively). Even things we would naturally consider inanimate had life and therefore a spirit according to the Celt. The Celtic belief in the sanctity of nature and its inhabitants derives in part from the belief that all things are imbued with spirit and thus alive and conscious. The ancient Celtic landscape was a living, breathing microcosm within the greater macrocosm of the universe. The Celtic world-view in its triune form was as programmed as our modern dualistic view. But again if we hope to understand how the Druids of old thought and performed their rituals and magick we need to retrain ourselves to think as they did. There is proof for triune thought in the Celtic literary record, triads of wisdom, Gods and goddesses appearing in groups of threes, poetical forms and many more examples can be found throughout the vast body of Celtic lore.

In the book "THE DRUIDS" by Peter Beresford Ellis he tells us of the Celtic triune thought:

"As in the Greek world, so among the Celts, who saw homosapiens as body, soul and spirit; the world they inhabited as earth, sea and air; the divisions of nature as animal, vegetable and mineral; the cardinal colors as red, yellow and blue and so forth. Three was the number of all things..."

In short, the world is not composed of opposing forces, but is a place of interconnected forces. The separation of forces or things into groups of opposites was as alien to them as the idea of it taking several days travel to reach the next town is to us. You as a being are made up of the “elements” which are physical, mental and spiritual. No one is more important than the other all are vital, necessary and connected. This is the part where we learn to escape the linear thought of our common culture. We can never say which is more important, for all three are necessary for existence.

The Three Realms

Evidence that the Celts held triune thought as infallible was so strong it that is still widely identifiable throughout their cultural remains, from identifiable god forms to divisions of cultural responsibilities even to the way in which they viewed themselves. The concept of triune thought was a belief pattern inherited from their Indo-European ancestors. The Irish cosmology states that all of existence is composed of three spheres, and upper, middle and lower realm. These three spheres are the subject of this lesson and we’ll look at them in great detail for they are not only the three spheres to which all creation belongs. They form the foundation of our ritual and philosophy as Irish Druids.

The three spheres equate to the physical manifestations of the sky, land and sea. From our perspective they exist both horizontally and vertically. These spheres are actual places, not simply archetypes of being. They are worlds of reality, different from but intimately connected to our reality. Each is inhabited with beings that live just as we do on this world. They are "kingdoms" in and of themselves, therefore in our tradition we call these places "realms." The three realms are: the Realm of Sky, the Realm of Land, and the Realm of Sea.

The three realms exist within the same space in the universe, they overlap and flow into each other, yet at the same time they are separate and distinct places. Indo-European cosmology states that there are two primordial elements: fire and water. Fire created and inhabits in the realm above while water created and inhabits the realm below. Where these two primordial elements met at the dawn of time (if there really is such a thing) a third and separate place was created; the Land. Each of the realms has certain attributes that denote their particular area of influence or primal states of existence. The Realm of Sky deals with the spiritual, Land with the physical, and Sea with the mental and emotional. It is part of human nature to assign human characteristics to things in order that we may understand them better. This holds true with the three realms, though the above statement is not the only reason for the attributes thus assigned to the three realms.

As mentioned above, the three worlds overlap and flow into one another, there are no easily definable boundaries separating these planes of existence. The realms of Sea and Sky each has influence in our realm of land, for the cycle of the seasons, is a direct effect of the cycles the Sun and Moon. Also, the life and death cycle as influenced by the Realm of Sea manifests in our realm of Land. Many of the Gods and Goddesses have influence in all three realms. Even our realm of Land has its influence on the other two realms, for caves, burial mounds and the depths of lakes and rivers are viewed as portals to the underworld.

The Three Realms play an important part in Druidry as a philosophy and as a spirituality. The Realm of Sky is the place where our deities are believed to dwell and represents our future and all that we desire to become. The Gods of the sky are gods of order, culture, poetry and magick. It is through their power that the destructive forces and chaos are kept in check. The Realm of Sea is the place were the ancestors and the forces of chaos exist. The Irish believed in a race of "anti-gods," whom they called the Fomorie, dwelt within the realm below, the Realm of the Sea. The Realm of the Sea is the realm of chaos, fertility, the forces of life and death. Also the dwelling place of the Ancestors, those who have come before us, and so is a place containing the knowledge and experiences of the past. Between these two realms and oft times seen as a place of battle between the "forces" of order and chaos (as can be observed in the story Cath Magh Turied) exists the Realm of the Land. This is the realm to which we as living human beings belong; we share this realm with other creatures and "spirits" of nature who belong only to this realm.

Through our ritual we seek to bridge the realms, we believe that we can walk among the ancestors and converse with the Gods. The Three Realms form the center of our ritual, for they embody all the attributes of where we are, where we have been and where we are going. They exist inside each of us; we are reflections of the world around us and those worlds that exist above and below. We bring these realms into our ritual practice because we want to remember that like the Three Realms, which combine to make the whole of existence, we as individuals are also composed of three distinct parts...again the mental, physical and the spiritual. As Druids the path to self-mastery is important, when we are able to unite all three aspects of ourselves into one being, we will be closer to nature and to the creative forces of the universe.

The Realm of Sea (the Underworld) also known as Tir Andomain (Underworld)

This is the realm of the Ancestors and the Fomorians. Here the cycle of life, death and rebirth is granted. This is the realm of the past. Here we find the constant ebb and flow of the tides that rule the emotions and the mental processes of humankind. Deep within this realm exists the sacred well of wisdom, from which the seven senses flow. These senses instruct and aid humankind. The Realm of the Sea is the dwelling place of the Ancestors and is the home of the God Manannan Mac Lir, whose cloak of mist and fog acts as a great veil that separates the three realms.

The Ancestors are important because they are the keepers of the knowledge of the old ways they are responsible for who we are and what we will someday become. We seek their knowledge and wisdom, they have lived, and learned and crossed the veil, and they have much wisdom and guidance to share with us. They are us and we are them, the communication between the present and the past is vital to our future and our path.

The Realm of Land (our world) also known as Mide (middle world)

The Green world, the realm of the Physical. Here upon the land dwell the creatures of nature and the beings and Gods and Goddesses who are responsible for fertility and the Land. We share this realm with these beings, here the web of life exists in it’s most intricate weave. The five sacred directions are found in this realm and from them we receive many gifts and lessons that aid us along the path of life. The Realm of Land is the sacred center of the three worlds; the other two realms of Sea and Sky join within the Realm of land at each shore and at the horizon. This is the realm where humankind live out their countless lives, this is the realm of the present.

As Druids we believe that everything in nature is possessed of an indwelling spirit, everything is alive. We wish to commune with the spirits of rock, tree, plant and animal. Every being in nature has knowledge that can be passed on to us if we know where to look and learn how to listen.

The Realm of Sky (the Otherworld) also know as Magh Mor (Great Plain)

The future, the real of the spiritual. Here exists the realization of our goals and dreams. The Realm of the Sky is all that we aspire to become. Within the shifting landscape of clouds and the simmering stars dwell the Gods and Goddesses who are responsible for the weather, the Sun, the Moon, and the Winds. This realm is known as the “Great Plain” and within this realm there are countless smaller plains, each responsible for a different aspect of spiritual being. The ancients looked to this realm to help them reckon the proper times to plant and harvest, they watched the heavenly bodies and celebrated as the sun and moon grew in strength and prayed for the return of light and warmth when the sun seemed to be weakening. The realm of sky is responsible for granting what are termed “spiritual wonders” for the inspiration, wisdom and creativity are transferred to man by the sacred flame. The flame of Imbas.

--- Triune Thought and the Three Realms ---


Revelation has its roots sunk deep into the powerful rhythms of ancient Near Eastern language and life. R.H. Charles, in his two-volume work, Revelation, in the International Critical Commentary, enjoyed Revelation 1 on its own terms. He listened to the music. In so doing, he noted the important repetitive pattern of "threes," a pattern that symbolizes, to the Hebrew mind, certainty and confirmation.

Charles knew that in the ancient Near East, literary form was almost as important as content. The form was a key to the meaning. Imaginative speech of the kind we inadequately label "poetry" in English, attractive rhyme schemes and repetition, and colorful symbolism-these features of Hebrew writing send us verbal cues about how we should read the book.

The creative structure is obvious. For example, God uses "the tree of life" from Genesis 2 as the motif for Revelation 22:2. Also, the victorious saints in heaven sing "the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb" (Revelation 15:3). This is why Hebrew thought structures pervade the book. The 404 verses in Revelation contain several hundred references to the Old Testament.

Patterns of Threes

In Revelation, the patterns are set up immediately in verse 1. The Revelation is from God (1) through Christ (2) to his servants (3). Christ (1) in turn sent it by an angel (2) to his servant John (3)-a double pattern of threes.

Most modern translations, except the New International Version and the New English Bible, follow the King James Version in presenting a threefold rhythm in verse 2, referring to John's witness to "the word of God, and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, and to all things that he saw."

Blessed, John continues in verse 3, is

1. the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and

2. blessed are those who hear it and

3. take to heart what is written in it.

In verse 4, John sends greetings from

1. him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and

2. from the seven spirits before his throne, and

3. from Jesus Christ, who is

1. the faithful witness,

2. the firstborn from the dead, and

3. the ruler of the kings of the Earth.

In verses 5 and 6, Jesus Christ is exalted because he

1. loves us and

2. has freed us from our sins by his blood, and

3. has made us to be a kingdom and priests.

In verse 7, we encounter a form of Hebrew poetry whereby subsequent phrases fill out the meaning of the leading thought. For example, the point "Look, he is coming with the clouds" is amplified thus:

1. and every eye will see him,

2. even those who pierced him; and

3. all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him.

In verse 8, we again meet a triple declaration of Jesus Christ as the Alpha and the Omega. He is described as he "who is, and who was, and who is to come."

John himself makes a threefold declaration in describing the "suffering and kingdom and patient endurance" that are ours in Jesus Christ (verse 9).

Observing these threefold repetitions in Revelation helps us to appreciate the music of the book as well as its message. It deepens our understanding of the force and power of the inspired Scripture. Revelation is not only authoritative and inspired; it is beautiful. Let's enjoy it in all its rich dimensions.

-Neil Earle

--- Plain Truth online- March/April 2001 PT ---

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